Arachidonic acid supplementation transiently augments the acute inflammatory response to resistance exercise in trained men

James F. Markworth, Randall F. D’Souza, Kirsten M.M. Aasen, Sarah M. Mitchell, Brenan R. Durainayagam, Andrew J. Sinclair, Jonathan M. Peake, Ingrid M. Egner, Truls Raastad, David Cameron-Smith, Cameron J. Mitchell

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Strenuous exercise can result in skeletal muscle damage, leading to the systemic mobilization, activation, and intramuscular accumulation of blood leukocytes. Eicosanoid metabolites of arachidonic acid (ARA) are potent inflammatory mediators, but whether changes in dietary ARA intake influence exercise-induced inflammation is not known. This study investigated the effect of 4 wk of dietary supplementation with 1.5 g/day ARA (n 9, 24 1.5 yr) or corn-soy oil placebo (n 10, 26 1.3 yr) on systemic and intramuscular inflammatory responses to an acute bout of resistance exercise (8 sets each of leg press and extension at 80% one-repetition maximum) in previously trained men. Whole EDTA blood, serum, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PMBCs), and skeletal muscle biopsies were collected before exercise, immediately postexercise, and at 2, 4, and 48 h of recovery. ARA supplementation resulted in higher exercise-stimulated serum creatine kinase activity [incremental area under the curve (iAUC) P 0.046] and blood leukocyte counts (iAUC for total white cells, P 0.001; neutrophils: P 0.007; monocytes: P 0.015). The exercise-induced fold change in peripheral blood mononuclear cell mRNA expression of interleukin-1 (IL1B), CD11b (ITGAM), and neutrophil elastase (ELANE), as well as muscle mRNA expression of the chemokines interleukin-8 (CXCL8) and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (CCL2) was also greater in the ARA group than placebo. Despite this, ARA supplementation did not influence the histological presence of leukocytes within muscle, perceived muscle soreness, or the extent and duration of muscle force loss. These data show that ARA supplementation transiently increased the inflammatory response to acute resistance exercise but did not impair recovery. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Daily arachidonic acid supplementation for 4 wk in trained men augmented the acute systemic and intramuscular inflammatory response to a subsequent bout of resistance exercise. Greater exercise-induced inflammatory responses in men receiving arachidonic acid supplementation were not accompanied by increased symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage. Although increased dietary arachidonic acid intake does not appear to influence basal inflammation in humans, the acute inflammatory response to exercise stress is transiently increased following arachidonic acid supplementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-286
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Inflammation
  • Omega-6
  • PUFA
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Supplement

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